The UK government has today (Monday) detailed plans for some venues and public spaces to put in place security measures to guard against potential terror attacks.
The government has published its response to the Protect Duty public consultation, which ran from February 26 to July 2, 2021.
The Protect Duty has been supported by victims’ groups such as the Martyn’s Law campaign, which was established by Figen Murray following the loss of her son Martyn in the Manchester Arena terror attack in May 2017. Twenty-two people were killed following an Ariana Grande concert at the venue almost five years ago.
The Protect Duty consultation generated 2,755 responses from various organisations, sectors and campaigners, the majority of which supported government proposals to introduce stronger measures.
The measures include a legal requirement for some public places to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks. There is currently no legislative requirement for organisations or venues to consider or employ security measures at the vast majority of public places but measures are set to be introduced this year.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “My number one priority is keeping the people of the UK safe.
“Following the tragic attack at the Manchester Arena, we have worked closely with Figen Murray, victims’ groups and partners to develop proposals to improve protective security around the country. I am grateful for their tireless commitment to the duty and those who responded to the consultation; the majority of whom agreed tougher measures are needed to protect the public from harm.
“We will never allow terrorists to restrict our freedoms and way of life, which is why we are committed to bringing forward legislation this year, that will strike the right balance between public safety, whilst not placing excessive burden on small businesses.”
The consultation sought views from private- and public-sector partners on a requirement for “certain publicly accessible locations” to implement security measures without placing undue burden on smaller businesses.
Seven out of 10 respondents agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take “appropriate and proportionate” measures to protect the public from attacks, and it was also agreed that venue capacity should determine when the duty applies.
Most respondents felt that larger organisations should take proportionate action to ensure people are protected, and there was an understanding that small- and medium-sized enterprises should not face the same requirements as larger venues. “Very strong” views were also expressed regarding the need for accountability, while half the respondents were in favour of an inspectorate that would identify key vulnerabilities and areas for improvement.
The Home Office is also working with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and Pool Reinsurance to develop a new interactive online platform, which is set to launch publicly this year.
The government said it will continue to engage with a range of stakeholders and other government departments, and use feedback from the consultation to further develop the legislation, which will be introduced to parliament at the “earliest opportunity”.